Two of my favorite quotes from the playoffs thus far:
"Who said our backs against the wall? It's a 2-2 series. What the hell is going on around here?"
"We have a game tomorrow night at 7:30 at Staples Center and that's a fact. Nothing changes. I'll be there. Kobe will be there. Pau (Gasol) will be there. All our guys. And we'll give it a go."
Both were comments made in reference to the idea of the Lakers being on the ropes during this series against the Thunder, a series which has no doubt provided some difficulties for the defending champs.
As Kobe correctly noted, "backs against the wall" is a little dramatic to label a situation involving a team tied at two games apiece in a best of seven series, with two-thirds of the remaining games on their home court. Along those lines, I asked Fish if fans and media sometimes forget a title run is in fact supposed to be hard. Yes, (the royal) we do, but as the point guard noted, players can as well.
"I think we're all guilty if it. I'm definitely not pointing fingers outside of even our own locker room. I think sometimes we take for granted how difficult this is and what we're trying to do. Even to just win a championship is a difficult thing to do. To then come back and do it again, and have to do it in a way where all the other variables have changed. Different teams. Different personnel. Different time of year. Injuries. Different things that come into play each single season. To go out and think that you can just kind of replicate this process that you went through before, I think we just take it for granted."
"You have to try to remind yourself to keep it all in perspective. We've done a pretty good job of it. That's what we need to do now. Just stay focused on where we are now. Don't get frustrated with what should have happened. Or could have happened. Don't concern ourselves with what can happen later on."
Like Fisher said, the only thing set in stone is a game will be played tomorrow. If utilized correctly, it can become a part of setting in stone the Lakers' advancement to the Western Conference semi-finals.
Having said that, not being fazed by their knotted status shouldn't be confused with indifference towards it. The Lakers remain perfectly aware of what's at stake right now. "It's really a game we want to establish ourselves," said Gasol of Tuesday's game five. "Send a message to them. They might be playing well. They played really well at home. They had two games, but that's all they're gonna get... We gotta play smart and make sure that we make a statement. Make them understand there's no chance. There's not light."
"It's a must-win for us. They can afford to lose the game and go back to Oklahoma, try to their thing again and force a game seven. For us, it's a must-win. We don't want to go to Oklahoma 3-2 against us."
And with that reminder of importance come Pau's plea to the fans to bring in 'da noise (bringing in 'da funk being optional and, based on some of the fans I've seen dancing on the jumbotron, quite likely impossible):
"If our fans really support us for game five and give us all they can, because it's a crucial victory, a crucial game for us. We can't afford to lose this game."
Always the giver, Fish also requested noise. Not even for his own benefit, but to help the Laker Nation self-medicate their anxiety without the use of pills.
"My suggestion would be that everybody that is worried and concerned to go and buy a ticket, if they can, to tomorrow's game and come and make a heck of a lot of noise, and yell at us to box out and play defense. Maybe that'll help ease some of those concerns."
By the way, I think the saying Fish was trying to remember is "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans," from John Lennon's "beautiful boy." Or it could have been, "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Should anyone have other suggestions, feel free to toss them out.
Andrew Bynum is talking transition defense and Brian is apparently filming him while lying on his back. What the heck kinda angle is this?
I asked Phil Jackson if he gained any solace knowing the Lakers have generally succeeded in defending the Thunder's half court sets, or if the transition issues negate this altogether. I'm not sure PJ answered my question, but either way, his response was interesting:
"What I told this team is Oklahoma's very inconsiderate so much of our team speed that they'll throw all five of their guys at the board without defensive balance and we're unable to take advantage of it. The same thing at the other end of the court. They'll throw all the other guys at both ends to rebound offensively or rebound defensively. They think our team speed isn't enough to break them back down again. We can do a couple things about that. We know we can do that and we'll take advantage of it.
According to Fish, most of the guys spent Sunday's day off thinking about anything but basketball. And speaking of days without hoops, there will be more space between games this week, which Fisher thinks could do a banged up Laker squad some good.
Like Brian, Phil sees this series as different than last season's against Houston.
Phil talks about the importance of rebounding, aggressive offense and home court advantage.
Sasha Vujacic updates the status of his severely sprained ankle. He's off crutches, so that's a plus, but didn't seem confident about his availability for the theoretical next round.